Were unaffordable rents and taxes of 'greedy landlords and politicians' in Banbury the reason out-of-town shopping centres were built?

Were unaffordable rents and taxes of 'greedy landlords and politicians' the reason Banbury’s out-of-town shopping centres were built? – Letters to the Editor
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I am sure others also agree with Mr Duncan Smith’s sense of the decline in Banbury's town centre (Banbury Guardian last week) but this has happened to all towns, and many far worse.

The building of out-of-town shopping centres was owing to the unaffordable rents and taxes of greedy landlords and politicians. A town has the High Street it patronises. Consumers chose shops outside Banbury’s town centre. This is the result, which was obvious for all to foresee.

However, I hope Mr Smith noticed also signs of new growth. Specialist grocers opening, internet businesses renting their first premises, new housing, the public library to move nearer the town centre, and, one hopes, Cherwell District Council offering affordable rents in the Castle Quay shopping centre all make me hopeful.

In these years of austerity and a cost of living crisis, it is important for Banbury’s residents to ‘vote with their spending’ carefully to support our local shops and economy with what little income we have. Every pound not spent in Banbury aids its decline.

Local businesses must try to be as competitive as possible; it is not just the cost of parking that decides some to buy elsewhere. In the next few years, will we be able to afford local shopping and to revive our town centre? Let us hope so, instead of having only the “soulless outskirts of town” and a screen on which to do our shopping.

Neil Iden, Banbury

M&S started ball rolling

I am grateful to Duncan Smith writing in last week’s Banbury Guardian, concerning the state of the town centre. I, too, have been concerned with the state of the town centre.

Marks and Spencer’s did not start the ball rolling on shop closures, but they certainly contributed to the demise of a good shopping centre. I, and I am sure many others, used to shop for clothing and food in the Banbury shop. Other towns and cities are facing the same problems.

I am not of course privy to M&S’s financial affairs but Banbury used to have a lovely niche in that location and as your correspondent says, it was a busy thriving hub. Building the giant superstore outside Banbury would not have taken place with recent trends, after the Covid outbreak. If our Banbury store had continued (and it was enlarged only a few years ago), we would probably still have a thriving town centre.

I do note that Banbury is trying to reinvent itself with small shops opening up. If outside retail parks can offer free parking why don’t Banbury or other small towns offer free parking too? The planners, too, got it wrong, because opening up these retail parks took customers away from town centres.

A lot of mistakes have been made and of course the Covid outbreak had a huge bearing, but big retail shops should sometimes keep an eye on their regular loyal customers’ shopping trends. Closing a town centre shop because they built a bigger shop on an out of town site, when in hindsight it probably would not have been built at all with current trends, i.e. online shopping and declining footfall in shopping centres,

Maureen R Smith, Banbury

Living wage for workers

I totally agree with Edwina Lawrence, [Letter April 21 "It’s time for Boris to go”]. Boris’s government is mired in lies, sleaze and cronyism. Rot sets in from the top. How can a cabinet of millionaires understand, empathise with, represent and legislate for the rest of us?

They can’t and they don’t. Wealth is created by workers: it remains within companies that reward CEOs and higher management with excessive salaries and pay dividends to shareholders. Lower down the pecking order workers who created the wealth may receive below a living wage, and seldom a wage that fairly reflects their contribution. Many essential workers, like carers and cleaners, are on a minimum wage.

Everyone should have a right to a home and a living wage. When someone working all hours at two jobs can't earn enough to live on - the system is broken.

Carol Broom, Banbury

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